STOP Framing "us"

How a select few of "them" are Framing all of "us"

Archive for the tag “immoral behavior”

“We” make it, “they” take it! Extracting Wealth from American Workers

Productivity in the United States has steadily risen over the past 30 years, and the U.S. continues to be one of the wealthiest nations on earth.  Despite this reality, the vast majority of Americans are not being rewarded for their efforts, and many people are earning less than their parents!  The reason productivity is up is because Americans are working longer and harder than they have in recent memory.  Productivity is thriving, yet worker salaries are dying.

As it turns out, conservative politicians in Washington have vigilantly pursued a set of economic and tax policies over the past 30 years reflecting the theory of trickle-down economics.  Simply put, this theory rests upon the assumption that perpetually lowering taxes on millionaires and billionaires, as well as borrowing money from future generations to give to the wealthiest members of our society will somehow trickle-down to the rest of us.  It’s safe to say that this theory has proven to be a complete and utter failure, and has led to the largest gap in wealth between those at the top (1%) and everyone else (99%) since the great depression.

The consequence of pursuing these policies has resulted in what can clearly be described as ‘wealth extraction’ from our economy.  The privileged class in the top 1% feels entitled to the wealth we all work hard to create, and they have used their power and influence to ensure legislation is passed that permit this to occur.  Evidence for this can be seen in 2010, when this group of wealthy elite claimed nearly all income gain in this country for themselves.  In 2010, the top 1% took in 93% of all income gain in this country.  Essentially, what this means is that America is stuck working harder than ever to create wealth for our nation that the top 1% extracts for their upper class members, while the rest of us struggle to survive on what little remains.

It wasn’t always this way, and more importantly it doesn’t have to be this way moving forward.  During the golden age of capitalism (1945-1975) all Americans in each income group were valued for the contributions they made, and were fairly compensated for their efforts.  Those at the bottom of the economic scale saw their incomes rise just as quickly as those at the top. For the first time in our nations history, millions of families could afford to buy a home, send their kids to college, purchase a new car, and lead relatively comfortable lives.  In short, the middle class was thriving.  During this time period, we all worked together to create wealth for our nation that was adequately shared among us, and fair and progressive tax policies were put in place that prevented the privileged class from extracting wealth from the rest of us.

This all changed when President Ronald Reagan took office.   Instead of embracing what was working for everyone, conservative politicians decided to replace the progressive tax code with tax policies favoring their wealthy elite donors.  As a result, rather than sharing in the wealth America worked together to create, those at the top decided to keep more of the money American workers generated for themselves.  In essence, the implementation of trickle-down economic policies allowed the privileged few to turn America into a we make it, they take it economy.  The wealth extraction underlying the divide between those at the very top and everyone else characterizing the conservative philosophy of we make and they take it has proven to work wonders for those at the top, but not so much for everyone else.

Since the wealth America creates is no longer being shared among us, and workers are no longer valued for their means of production, or paid thriving wages, poverty rates are steadily increasing, the middle class is eroding, more people are dependent upon food stamps and other government assistance to survive, and the most vulnerable populations among us are facing grave consequences each day we continue to adopt these failed and misguided policies.  The behavior of conservative politicians insisting our nation prioritize borrowing money from future generations to give to the super wealthy is not only immoral, but leads to catastrophic consequences for the vast majority of people in order to pave the way for what Vice Presidential hopeful, Paul Ryan calls a path to prosperity for the top 1%.

Bernie Sander’s attempt to ‘Protect the Public’ from the immoral behavior of the Big Banks!

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Bernie Sanders describes a much needed effort to reign in the big banks who are walking all over us. As pointed out by Bernie Sanders, the 6 largest financial institutions (ie, big banks) own more than half of all mortgages in this country, two-thirds of all credit cards, and assets of $9 trillion dollars, which is equivalent to two-thirds of the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States.

What does this mean for you and me? Well, for starters, it means the privileged class in this country is accumulating massive amounts of wealth at the expense of everyday citizens by squeezing them with increased ATM and other bank fees, hikes on their credit card interest rates, and predatory lending practices that led to the housing crisis we are still recovering from. To make matters worse, these privileged members of society are using their enormous wealth and power to influence our elected officials to enact a variety of legislation that perpetuates the status quo of income inequality.  By doing so, the GOP is effectively allowing a select few at the top to achieve prosperity at the expense of the rest of us, who are doing our best to keep our heads above water and make ends meet.

As explained by Bernie Sanders, when the big banks engaged in this immoral behavior in the past, a Republican president, Teddy Roosevelt, put an end to it by preventing the big banks from gaining even more wealth and power by breaking them up. Legislation was introduced to protect the public from this immoral behavior, which served the purpose of stopping powerful special interests from colluding with one another and exploiting the rest of us.

Look at how far the Republican Party has moved to the right since then.  Ever since Ronald Reagan was elected president in the early 1980’s we have witnessed a GOP gone wild, and every successful public protection policy put in place to prevent harm caused by the big banks was repealed via the use of the “burdensome regulations” frame. The GOP cleverly made it appear as if enacting public protections (ie, regulations) were somehow causing the very problems these protections were trying to prevent.  As a result, people are more inclined to support GOP efforts in expanding the size and power of the big banks, while firmly believing that they are helping to solve our problems.

This language of “burdensome regulations” has been repeated so often by our elected representatives, media personalities, and other newscasters that it simply rolls off the tongue of those who have been exposed to it whenever discussing any attempt to enact public protection policies. The unfortunate reality is that the instant gut reaction many people feel when simply hearing the word regulations is enough to activate this frame, which leads one to believe action is needed to stop regulations from being imposed on us. In order to avoid this trap of adopting a self-defeating view on a particular issue, we should stop using the term regulations, and start calling them what they are, public protections that seek to prevent people, both real and imaginary (ie, corporations) from causing the rest of us harm.

According to Bernie Sanders, “we need to re-regulate the big banks”, or re-enact the Glass Steagall (public protection) Act in order to prevent the Wall Street Casino from crashing our economy again. As an added slap in the face to the American taxpayer, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase (one of the 6 big banks) is currently serving on the Board of the New York Federal Reserve, which is responsible for protecting the people from the immoral actions of the big banks.  Just as we did in the past, Bernie Sanders is planning on introducing legislation next week to break up the big banks, and put an end to the “fox guarding the hen house” situation of putting Jamie Dimon in charge of stopping the immoral behavior of the big banks.

H.R. 5: The GOP plan to protect the “privileged sector” from prosecution, otherwise framed as a plan to “save” Medicare.

Paul Ryan admitted on C-span that the George Orwell Party’s (GOP) plan to “save” Medicare involves one of the top 5 priorities of the Republican Party since taking control of the House of Representatives.  The 5th bill introduced by GOP members of the House (H.R. 5) as soon as John Boehner took over as speaker, is designed to protect the “privileged sector” from prosecution, which has absolutely nothing to do with Medicare.  Many people getting their news from the corporately controlled media, especially Fox news or some radical right wing talk show host, however, will not be aware of this reality.  Instead, they are likely to believe that this bill will “save” Medicare because the plan to “save” Medicare is the latest “frame” being endlessly repeated by members of the GOP in order to convince people of this Orwellian lie!  In reality, the GOP wants to end Medicare, not “save” it.

As can be seen in the details of this bill, H.R.5 is designed to shield the “privileged sector” from any liability or accountability for their actions.

What this means is that any future act of wrongdoing on the part of callous corporations to knowingly and willingly put people’s lives in danger amount to nothing more than a slap on the wrist.  By limiting the liability of damages caused by corrupt and willfully negligent corporations, H.R. 5 actually encourages immoral behaviors, and encourages the cost cutting measures that put people’s lives at risk, since the only punishment the “privileged sector” will receive is a measly fine of $250,000.  In short, this bill protects the “privileged sector” from prosecution.

Successfully holding corporations accountable for their immoral actions by awarding large sums of money (ie, class actions lawsuits) to the victims of such egregious violations of the law sends a message that these actions are not tolerated in a civilized society.  However, rather than discouraging the reckless and callous behavior of corporations by increasing the penalty and holding corporations accountable for their actions, the “privileged sector” and their advocates in the GOP have a different message they want to send.  A message that encourages this sort of immoral behavior due to the impact it has on the bottom line, not to mention limiting the amount of damages they have to pay, once their cost cutting measures inevitably fail, and we the people pay the price!

A clear cut example of attempting to protect the “privileged sector” can be seen in the recent BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  Instead of demanding answers from the CEO of BP at a House congressional hearing on this matter, a GOP member of Congress, Joe Barton, R-Texas, apologized when we attempted to hold BP accountable for their actions.  Joe Barton had this to say, “I’m ashamed at what happened in the Whitehouse yesterday, I think it is A tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.”  This of course, was in reference to the restitution payments BP was being required to pay for the damage they were responsible for causing.

Amazingly, as seen in this short video clip, Joe Barton’s top priority and concern was not for the people who died as a result of BP’s willful disregard of safety standards, nor was he concerned about the catastrophic damage these callous actions caused to the environment.  Instead, this ranking member of the Energy & Commerce Committee’s primary concern was apologizing to the CEO of BP.  This example clearly shows what members of the GOP really care about, protecting the “privileged sector.”

In the end, the GOP’s plan to “save” Medicare is nothing more than a frame designed to divert our attention away from their real agenda of protecting the “privileged sector” from prosecution. Unfortunately, GOP members in both the House and the Senate are not only helping the “privileged sector” get away with profiting at the expense of the people, but they too are actively receiving a piece of the action!

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